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Old 03-10-2014, 07:11 AM
 
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Question re Deuteronomy chap. 15

In the Encyclopedia of Judaism, Alan Avery-Peck writes :« as Deut. 15 :11 states (the poor will always be with you in the land…..), God intentionally created a class of needy people ». Elsewhere, Avery-Peck argues that « the existence of needy people is not a deviation from the order of the world as God created it, but is, rather, part of thecreated order ».

He goes on to quote Bava Bathra 10a, wherein the pagan Rufus Turner asks R Aqiba, « if your God loves the poor, how come He does not provide for them », to which the Rabbi responds, « it is so that through them that we may be saved from the judgment of Gehinnom ».

So we have the curious idea that God deliberately makes some people very poor, so that the better-off can gain merit by performing the mitzvoth of tzedakah and gemulith hasadim.

I must say that if I were one of the very poor, I would consider that a mean trick on the part of God!

But we find at Deuteronomy 15 :4 the words « there will never be any poor among you if only you obey the Lord your God by carefully keeping the commandments… ».

This suggests that severe poverty is the result of our misbehavior, not something intended by God. Therefore verse 11 would seem to be simply an observation that, because of the our faults, there will, in practice, always be poverty that has to be relieved. But not that God designed things that way.

It is not for me to know better than R Aqiba, but the second interpretation above does seem the more reasonable. What are we to make of this ?
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:11 AM
 
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Typical of our religion, I'll give you a third approach.

Many religious Jews believe in Olam Haba, the afterlife. Some Jews choose to take their rewards in Olam Hazeh (this physical world we live in). Other Jews are poor in this world, but spend their lives performing Mitzvos in order to receive their reward in Olam Haba.

If the OP is a Yid, he will be able to answer his questions using all three responses, as each is correct, and not to the exclusion of any other further Jewish answers.
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Old 03-24-2014, 12:14 PM
 
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Thank you. Perhaps the Jews who "choose to take their rewards in Olam Hazeh" are those who don't believe in Olam Haba!

But the rich Jew who is sufficiently generous can presumably avoid Gehinnom, and thus have it both ways! Is that right?
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Old 03-24-2014, 12:47 PM
 
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I must say that if I were one of the very poor, I would consider that a mean trick on the part of God!
First of all "Poor" and "Rich" are different things to different people. Is a poor person with a healthy family better off than a rich person with a sick child? Nobody's life is perfect, including the rich man's, so to judge rich and poor only by money is naive.

The rich person's test is to see if he can part with his money to help the needy, the poor man's test is to accept his poverty with simcha, believing that G-d knows what's best for him.

I already learned that this world is no picnic for anybody, and even those who are a rich as a king can be quite miserable.

Quote:
Thank you. Perhaps the Jews who "choose to take their rewards in Olam Hazeh" are those who don't believe in Olam Haba!
We don't pick and choose where to take our rewards, but certainly any discomfort on this world will detract from punishment in olam habah. Our test is to remember that.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:44 PM
 
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Superb post, Iwish.

The money we have on this earth is not ours. We did not earn it thru our own merits. It's just a test to see what we'll do with it.
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